Slicing tomatoes is one of the earliest differences I noticed between my mother and myself, a skill of precision not immediately passed down from her to me, nor from her own mother to herself. Believe me, I’ve tried, but the precision of slicing tomatoes—I’m convinced—only belongs to my mother. There are things, like slicing tomatoes, we simply learn on our own, originating from some inexplicable place within ourselves.

Thus, Slicing Tomatoes features poems and prose, stemming from that inexplicable place, maybe unearthing itself from somewhere deep in the DNA, from an ancestor who was a storyteller, an ancestor who yearned to be a storyteller, an ancestor who told stories through different mediums, outside of the written word, like in the secret code of how she sliced tomatoes.

Under the Collaborations tab, you will find poetry/prose and art collaborations with Filipina artists hailing not just from the Motherland but the United States, Australia, Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Dubai, along with guest featured non-Filipina artists, all of whom you can read more about on the Featured Artists page. In these pieces, I hope you will find not only beauty, but be moved to a place of compassion, empathy, meaningful discussion, and maybe even inspiration to tell your own stories.

Any questions about this site can be directed to the Contact page. I look forward to hearing from you, and thank you for stopping by.



Author Elsa Valmidiano
Photo by Deborah Coleman

Philippine-born and LA-raised, Elsa Valmidiano is an Ilocana-American essayist, poet, and Reproductive Justice activist, whose ancestral roots hail from Uyaoy and Ubbog in Bacnotan, La Union through her mother, and Labnig in San Juan (Lapog) as well as the town proper of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur through her father. She acknowledges her Itneg roots through her great-grandfather (her paternal grandmothers father) from Labnig. She currently resides in Oakland.

Elsa’s debut essay collection from New Rivers Press, We Are No Longer Babaylan, was a recipient of their Editors’ Choice selection from their 2018 Many Voices Project competition in Prose. Her second essay collection, The Beginning of Leaving, is forthcoming from Querencia Press in Summer 2023.

Elsa’s work is widely published in journals and recently appears in Anomaly, Cherry Tree, Canthius, Hairstreak Butterfly Review, MUTHA, Mythos, and Pearl Press. Her work is also widely anthologized and recently appears or is forthcoming in What God Is Honored Here? (University of Minnesota Press), NOMBONO: An Anthology of Speculative Poetry by BIPOC Creators (Sundress Publications), Unbound: Composing Home (New Rivers Press), Mythos’ Anthologie: Volumes 1 & 2 (Ink and Quill Publications), Not Ghosts, But Spirits: Volume I, An Anthology of Women, Queer, Trans, & Enby Issues (Querencia Press), and Had I Known Before: Unfolded Poetry Project 2023 Anthology (Esperanza Publishing). Her work appears in international journals in Canada, New Zealand, and the UK. Her book reviews appear in Poetry Northwest, The Collidescope, Bridge Eight, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Atticus Review, South 85, and Honey Literary.

For a complete list of Elsa’s published work, please visit the CV tab.

Elsa is an alum of the DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon and Summer Literary Seminars hosted in Tbilisi. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. She has performed numerous readings such as at Artists Against Rape, Kearny Street Workshop’s APATURE, Scriptorium, Litquake, Lark Poetry Series, and has been a poetry guest speaker and panelist at several NorCal colleges and universities. She has read in various locales nationally and internationally. She has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

Elsa is the founder and operator of The STETosphere where she offers editorial services for prose manuscripts (full-length and chapbook-length), individual short stories, and personal essays.

Fun (and rarely mentioned) fact about Elsa: She is a law graduate (Juris Doctor) of Syracuse University College of Law with a Certificate of Specialization in Family Law and Social Policy, and received the Award for Jurisprudence of Human Rights. She embraces her legal education with pride but don’t ask her for any legal advice as she doesn’t practice though her legal skills spill into her literary career as an essayist, fiction writer, poet, and textual woman warrior. 

Other fun facts: Elsa was a reproductive rights activist for several years with Planned Parenthood, a post-abortion counselor for Exhale, and a post-abortion complications care intern at Likhaan—a women’s health organization in her Motherland, the Philippines. During her months as a post-abortion complications care intern, Elsa split that time facilitating healing exercises, games, art projects, chorus, and creative writing exercises with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence at a women’s shelter outside Tacloban. 

Other random fun (and even more rarely mentioned) facts about Elsa: She studied abroad at the University of Auckland in New Zealand with a concentration in Maori Politics, New Zealand Literature, and Literatures of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. Before pursuing Law, she interned in Washington, DC at the Council of Chief State School Officers—a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education.

Last, but not least, she would really like it if you pronounced her last name as her ancestors intended: /väl-mĭ-jänō/.

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